Jonathan Milan doubles up at Giro d’Italia as Merlier is relegated in chaotic sprint finish

Jonathan Milan 2024 Giro d'Italia Stage 11 Finish

Jonathan Milan claimed his second stage victory in the 2024 Giro d’Italia, winning a hectic bunch sprint in Francavilla al Mare. The Italian sprinter capitalised on a relegation for Tim Merlier to take the win, with Kaden Groves and Giovanni Lonardi completing the podium.

Stage 11 summary

The 207km route from Foiano di Val Fortore to Francavilla al Mare was marked by calm conditions early on. Unlike previous stages, the race began without the furious pace often seen in the opening kilometres. Thomas Champion, Edoardo Affini and Tim van Dijke formed an early breakaway, but their efforts were closely monitored by the peloton.

The breakaway trio managed to stay ahead for most of the race, but they were eventually caught with 35.3km remaining. The sprint teams, including Lidl Trek, Alpecin-Deceuninck, Soudal-QuickStep, and Jayco-AlUla, kept the pace high to prevent any further attacks.

A small attempt by Andrea Piccolo with 20km to go briefly disrupted the calm, but it was quickly neutralised. Unfortunately, a crash involving Felix Großschartner caused some concern, though he managed to finish the stage.

Finale and sprint

As the peloton approached the final kilometres, the tension increased. Jayco AlUla made an early move to position their sprinter, but they were soon overtaken by the other teams. The final kilometre saw chaos as a touch of wheels caused Madis Mihkels to crash, taking Fabio Jakobsen and Tobias Lund Andresen down with him.

Amid the confusion, Milan latched onto Merlier’s wheel and surged past in the final metres to secure victory. Merlier’s deviation in his sprint line led to his relegation, promoting Groves and Lonardi.

Reflecting on his win, Milan expressed his gratitude to his team: “You know it’s not just this 20-second sprint that makes me happy or the victory in the end. I think it’s all the work that we did, that my guys did, that the team did for me. Today supporting me, bringing me to the crucial position for the sprint. It’s this that makes me happy, that makes a real team as we are. Today is just unbelievable what the guys did for me. They always believe in me and I have to say thanks from the bottom of my heart.”

General classification

The general classification saw no major changes, with Tadej Pogacar retaining the Maglia Rosa. Pogacar, who finished safely in the main group, commented on the stage’s challenges: “Maybe it looks like I’m in the first positions a bit too close to the finish line in the lead up to the sprint but today there was a crash in front of me. I always race like this. I stay in a bubble. I check what’s going on and I stay one metre behind the wheels. You never know if a crash can happen at the front or further back. I just have this philosophy that I have to stay safe and not make any mistake.”

Fabio Jakobsen’s struggle

The stage marked another difficult day for Fabio Jakobsen, who crashed in the sprint. Jakobsen, once considered among the fastest in the peloton, has struggled to find form this season. After moving to DSM-Firmenich PostNL, Jakobsen has only one victory in 39 race days, and his performance in the Giro has been disappointing.

Reflecting on his career, Jakobsen acknowledged the challenges he faces: “One moment you’re a hero, next you’re at zero. One day you’re winning, defined as the best in class, and the next you can’t even buy a victory, regarded as a has-been.”

As the Giro continues, both Milan and Pogacar will look to maintain their strong performances, while Jakobsen seeks to regain his former prowess amidst the competitive field.

2024 Giro d’Italia Stage 11 result

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Photo credits: LaPresse